Big Newark rally demands justice for Trayvon Martin
Newark, NJ – The struggle to get justice for Trayvon Martin continued here, July 20. Over 500 people turned out at the Federal Building to demand a federal civil rights investigation of his murder by George Zimmerman. The rally was called by the National Action Network (NAN.) Speaker after speaker denounced the Zimmerman verdict and contrasted it with the 20-year sentence given Marissa Alexander in the same state of Florida for firing a warning shot in her own defense that harmed no one.
Another common point was to build the Aug. 24 march in Washington, D.C. in observance of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic March on Washington. Goals of thousands of buses from New Jersey alone and over a million in attendance were projected.
Bashir Akinyele of the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition (NAVC), urged four points for action: a federal investigation of civil rights violations by Zimmerman; the repeal of 'stand your ground' laws in all states that have them; a boycott of consumer products made by companies owned by the infamous Koch brothers, who financed Zimmerman’s defense; and a United Nations declaration of the national identity of African-American people.
He said we need a united front of struggle—NAN, NAVC, NAACP, People’s Organization for Progress (POP), Bloods, Crips, unions, teachers, everybody.
The main address of the day was given by Lawrence Hamm of the People’s Organization for Progress. He introduced Earl Williams, father of Earl Faison, killed in 1999 by police in Orange, New Jersey, to the crowd.
Earl Faison was just 27 when his life was taken. The police told his father he had died an “accidental death” – that he had fallen off a chair. What Earl Williams saw was that his son had been beaten so badly that boot marks were visible on his body. One eye was hanging out of its socket.
As in the case of Trayvon Martin, the police destroyed evidence and tried to cover up the crime, Hamm said. They didn’t count on the determination of the people. POP and the family of Earl Faison stayed out in front of the police station, with protest after protest. They marched for justice in 13 different cities. Eventually five police were found guilty on federal charges of civil rights violations. It took five years of fighting through all kinds of official delays and evasions before the perpetrators were finally sentenced.
“We have to be in it for the long term,” Hamm said, “even if we have to come back here a thousand times!” The gathering roared its agreement.
He noted that the NAACP had already been working on the murder of Emmett Till when the Montgomery bus boycott was being planned. “The struggle for Trayvon Martin will be the forerunner of many other struggles for justice, just as was the struggle for Emmett Till.
“We stand here today 150 years after the Civil War,” he said. “Our ancestors gave their lives so that we would no longer be seen as chattels. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Fannie Lou Hamer rose up to put Jim Crow in the garbage can.
“Since then we have been electing senators, representatives and governors. We even have a man in the White House. We even have an attorney general. Those officials can’t just sit there. If we can’t send this racist to jail, our ancestors will look down on us!
“Attorney General Holder has a representative here,” he said. “We demand that Federal Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman meet with leaders of our community to discuss our demand for a civil rights violations investigation of Zimmerman.
“Tell Obama dialogue is good but justice would be better. . . A voice calls from beyond the grave,” he said, urging attendance on Aug. 24 in Washington.
POP meets every Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, 224 W. Kinney Street in Newark.